FAQ on Photomatix

Licensing & download
Tips & Tricks
Using Photomatix
Technical issues & unexpected results
Using Photomatix for panoramas
Licensing & download

Do I need to buy a second license if I install Photomatix on another computer?

One Photomatix Pro license entitles you to install and register Photomatix Pro on other computers you use. The same applies to Photomatix Essentials, the HDR Batch plugin for Lightroom, Photomatix for Linux, and the Tone Mapping Plugin for Photoshop.

However, your Photomatix license is limited to one user. You will need to buy an additional license if you wish to install and register the software for another user (unless the other user is your spouse or close family member, as we make an exception in such cases).

A license may be transferred to another user, provided the original user renounces to use the software and unregisters it from their computer(s).

In the case of Photomatix Pro, Photomatix Essentials, the HDR Batch plugin for Lightroom and the Tone Mapping plugin for Photoshop, your license also entitles you to install and register the software on both Windows and Mac computers. If you bought a license for Photomatix Pro for Windows, for instance, you may install the Windows and Mac versions of Photomatix Pro, and register both with the same license key. See the FAQ on cross-platform licensing for more details on this.

I haven't yet received my serial code, when will I get it?

Your license information is emailed immediately after your payment has been processed.

If you paid by credit card, the email comes from our reseller (sent from mailer@fastspring.com or sales@bluesnap.com). If you paid via PayPal, it is sent from support@hdrsoft.com.

If you didn't receive this email, it may be due to a mail server delay or because the email was caught in spam filters.

You can request your license key via our automated resending of license key or by contacting the Photomatix Support Team.

I upgraded to Photomatix Pro 7. Do I need a new license key?

Yes if you purchased a license when Photomatix Pro was at version 5 or older. Please see the upgrade information form.

I lost my license key. Can you send it to me again?

If you purchased the license via the HDRsoft.com website, you can use the license key resending form to have your license key automatically resent to you. Alternatively, you can contact the Photomatix Support Team.

My photo computer is not connected to the Internet. How do I install your software on it?

Your computer doesn't need to be online to install Photomatix, as long as you have another computer with an Internet connection where you can download the software. You would then copy the downloaded file on a flash drive, USB key or other type of removable drive and transfer it to the computer without Internet access.

Here are instructions on how to do this depending on your platform:

On Windows:

  • Go to the download page of Photomatix Pro or Photomatix Essentials depending on the software you want to install on your offline computer.
  • Click on the "Download Photomatix Pro" or "Download Photomatix Essentials" link in blue.
  • When prompted, choose Save (Internet Explorer) or Save File (Firefox).
  • On the Save As dialog box, navigate to the location you would like to save the file and choose "Save".  If the removable drive (e.g. flash drive, USB key, etc.) is already inserted in your online computer, save the file to it directly. Otherwise, save the file to computer's hard drive and copy it to the removable drive.
  • Use the removable drive to transfer the downloaded file to your offline computer.
    The name of the file depends on the software, its version and the edition. For instance, if you have downloaded Photomatix Pro 7.0, the name of the file will be: PhotomatixPro70.exe.
  • Double-click on the transferred file to install Photomatix on your offline computer.

On Mac:

  • Go to the download page of Photomatix Pro or Photomatix Essentials depending on the software you want to install on your offline computer.
  • Click on the "Download Photomatix Pro" or "Download Photomatix Essentials" link in blue.
  • Copy the downloaded zip file to the removable drive (e.g. flash drive, USB key, etc.).
  • Use the removable drive to transfer the file to your offline computer.

Can I switch my Windows license to Mac? (or vice-versa)

Yes. In fact, you do not need to switch your license, as one Photomatix Pro or Photomatix Essentials license allows you to install the software on another computer, regardless of its platform as explained above.

The license key you received after purchase registers both the Windows and Mac versions of the software, except in two cases: If you purchased a Photomatix Pro license before April 2007, or a license of the Tone Mapping Plugin (sold separately, i.e outside the Photomatix bundle) before October 2019. In these two cases, you will need to contact us to request the license key for the other platform.

When ordering online, you will see two separate purchase buttons depending on whether the license is for the Windows or Mac version of the software, even though the license is valid for both. Knowing which platform you intend to use the software on helps us better support you, but doesn't restrict your rights to register Photomatix on both Windows and Mac computers.

Is my Photomatix Pro license valid for Photomatix for Linux?

Photomatix Pro is available for both Windows and Mac, but not for Linux at the moment. The same applies to Photomatix Essentials.

Photomatix for Linux is a product separate from Photomatix Pro and Photomatix Essentials, and therefore requires a different license.

However, we are making an exception in two cases. If you purchase a Photomatix Pro license and wish to use Photomatix on both a Windows/Mac and Linux OS, you are eligible for a free Photomatix for Linux license. The same applies if you purchased a Photomatix Pro license before Photomatix for Linux was released (10 July 2016). Please contact our support if you are in one of these two cases.

How do I upgrade to the latest version?

You can upgrade to the latest version by downloading it from the download page and installing it on your computer. If you are on Windows, it is better to uninstall your current version of Photomatix before installing the new one.

If you want to be notified when new major versions are released, you are welcome to subscribe to our announcements.

The upgrade to Photomatix Pro version 7 is free of charge for customers who purchased a license of Photomatix Pro version 6.0 or higher. If you need a new license key, please see the upgrade information page.

What is your upgrade policy?

A Photomatix Pro 7 license purchased from the HDRsoft.com website allows you to upgrade for free to all sub-versions of Photomatix Pro 7.

If you purchased a license of Photomatix Pro version 6, you can upgrade for free to version 7, provided the license was purchased through the HDRsoft.com website or legitimate resellers.

A Photomatix Essentials license allows you to upgrade for free to all future versions of that product.

A Photomatix for Linux license and Photomatix Tone Mapping Plugin follow a policy of allowing you to free to all its sub-versions, as well as its next major version.

It means that a Photomatix for Linux license purchased today will allow you to upgrade to version 2 of the program, when version 2 is released, and the upgrade to the Tone Mapping Plugin version 3 is free of charge for licensed users of version 2

To upgrade to the latest version, please see the above question.

I purchased Photomatix Essentials. Is there an upgrade price to Photomatix Pro?

Yes. You can purchase a license of Photomatix Pro for the US$60 cost difference. Please use the automated Upgrade to Photomatix Pro form to access the upgrade pricing.

How do I transfer Photomatix to a new computer?

Please download the software from our website to transfer Photomatix to your new computer. To do this, go to the download page, and install the downloaded software on your new computer.

If your new computer is not connected to the Internet, see the above instructions to install on an offline computer.

I have a new computer. How can I download Photomatix again?

You can find the latest versions of our software on the download page.

If you need to download older versions, you will find these listed at bottom of the download page of the product you wish to download. If your reason for downloading the older version is because you cannot find a feature anymore, please contact the Photomatix Support Team for help with finding the feature in the new version.

Is there a way to get the watermark off a photograph processed before buying the license?

If you have a license for Photomatix Pro, it is possible to remove the 'Photomatix' watermark from photographs processed when the software was still in trial mode, but only if the resulting image was saved uncropped at full resolution, and was neither post-processed nor double HDR rendered.

Here are instructions for removing the watermarks:

  • Click on the 'Automate' menu and select "Batch Single Files"
  • Check the "Remove watermark" option (this becomes enabled after having registered Photomatix Pro)
  • Browse to the folder where the watermarked images are located, and make sure the images in this folder do have the watermark added to them.
  • Click on the "Run" button

If you have a license for Photomatix Essentials, you can use the trial of Photomatix Pro to remove the watermark as detailed above.

Important note: The removal of the watermark requires that the image was not retouched after the watermark was added to it. If you altered the image - by changing the brightness or contrast, cropping, resizing, etc. - then Photomatix will not be able to remove the watermark anymore.

I uninstalled the previous version before installing the upgrade, and was not asked to enter my license key again. Is this normal?

Yes. Uninstalling Photomatix Pro and Essentials only remove the components of the software, not your licensing information. The Windows version stores this information in your registry (HKEY_CURRENT_USER) and the Mac version in your preferences (com.hdrsoft.photomatixpro.plist for Photomatix Pro and com.hdrsoft.PhotomatixEssentials.plist for Photomatix Essentials).

If you wish to unregister Photomatix Pro as well as remove its default settings, please proceed as follows depending on your computer platform:

On Mac:

  • Choose "Go > Go To Folder" from the Finder menu, and enter
    ~/Library/Preferences in the box.
  • Locate the file com.hdrsoft.photomatixpro.plist and move it to the Trash.
  • Restart your computer

Alternatively (and to avoid having to restart your computer), just enter this command on the Terminal window:
defaults delete com.hdrsoft.photomatixpro

On Windows:

  • Click on "Start" (normally located on the bottom left of your computer)
  • In the box at the bottom that says “Search programs and files”, type "regedit" (without the quotes), and then press ENTER
  • In the Registry Editor, locate and click on the directory:
  • Open the 'PhotomatixPro' folder, then the '7.0' folder
  • Select 'Registration', and click "Delete" on the "Edit" menu
  • Click 'Yes' on the confirmation dialog

Should I try Photomatix Pro or Essentials?

Photomatix Essentials is particularly easy to use and intended for photographers new to HDR.

Photomatix Pro offers more options for adjusting HDR Photos and includes advanced features such as batch processing and selective deghosting. It also offers presets intended for real-estate photography, as well as a Lightroom Plugin to export photos to Photomatix Pro.

Photomatix Essentials and Pro share the same internal HDR processing engines, but their interfaces differ. Photomatix Essentials focuses on simplicity, providing an easy-to-use introduction to HDR, while Photomatix Pro offers more options and features.

If you buy a license for Photomatix Essentials, you can upgrade to Photomatix Pro later on for just the price difference between the two products.

I see Photomatix offered for very cheap on eBay, Amazon or elsewhere. Is this legal?

No, it is definitely illegal.

You will almost certainly get a stolen license key if you purchase Photomatix on eBay. You will for sure get a stolen license key if you purchase a so-called "Open Box" of Photomatix Pro on Amazon when it is delivered without a box. You will also receive a stolen license key if you purchase on Craigslist or websites selling cheap software.

Please don't buy Photomatix from such sellers. Not only would you be rewarding thieves, but you wouldn't be able to get the free upgrades you would otherwise be entitled to.

Purchases made from sources other than our website or legitimate resellers are made at the buyer's risk and we assume no liability for those purchases.

If you already purchased from a fraudulent reseller on Amazon or another reputable place, we recommend that you report the fraud to Amazon and request a refund.


Does Photomatix run on Apple computers with the M1 and M2 chips?

Yes. As of version 6.3, Photomatix Pro runs natively on M1 and M2 chips. Photomatix Essentials runs on M1 and M2 chips thanks to the Rosetta 2 technology.

Does Photomatix work with Photoshop?

Photomatix Pro and Photomatix Essentials are standalone applications, and therefore don't need Photoshop or another application to run.

Images you create with Photomatix Pro or Photomatix Essentials are compatible with any image editing software. This means you can open and further process them in Photoshop if you need to.

Is Photomatix Pro compatible with Lightroom 6 / Classic?

Yes. The Export to Photomatix Pro plugin works fine in Lightroom 6 and Lightroom Classic.

Can Photomatix be used as an Apple Photos Extension?

Photomatix Pro and Essentials create HDR images from bracketed photographs, while Photos Extensions are designed to edit one image at a time.

Is your software compatible with Photoshop CC?

Photomatix Pro and Essentials are standalone applications, and therefore run independently from Photoshop. Images created with Photomatix Pro or Essentials are compatible with Photoshop CC, as well as older versions of Photoshop.

The Tone Mapping plugin for Photoshop is compatible with Photoshop CC.

Does Photomatix work with Windows 11?


Is Photomatix compatible with macOS Sonoma?

Yes. The current version of Photomatix Pro is compatible with macOS Sonoma. The same applies to Photomatix Essentials, the HDR Batch Plugin for Lightroom and the Tone Mapping Plugin for Photoshop.

Does Photomatix work on a 64-bit OS?

Yes, Photomatix Pro and Photomatix Essentials work fine on the 64-bit edition of Windows 7, 8, 10, and 11, and on 64-bit Mac OSes.

What are the system requirements?

On both platforms:

  • 4 GB of RAM minimum - 8 GB or more recommended
  • 1 GB of available hard-disk space (more is recommended)
  • 1,024 x 800 or greater monitor resolution

Windows platform:

  • Photomatix Pro: Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, Vista or XP with .NET 2.0 framework or higher (if the .NET framework is not installed, the installation wizard of Photomatix will prompt you to download it from Microsoft's website).
  • Photomatix Essentials: Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista or XP with .NET 2.0 framework or higher.

macOS platform:

  • Photomatix Pro: macOS 10.11 or higher
  • Photomatix Essentials: macOS 10.5 or higher

Does Photomatix work with RAW files from my camera?

Most likely it does, though there may be a few exceptions for certain formats and shooting modes mentioned further down.

If your camera model is quite recent, the current version of Photomatix might not yet support RAW files taken with it. However, the next version of Photomatix Pro (v7.1.2) will introduce support for RAW files from these camera models:

  • Canon EOS R6 Mark II, EOS R8, EOS R50, EOS R100 and EOS Ra
  • Fuji GFX100-II, X-T5, X-S20, X-H2 and X-H2S
  • GoPro HERO11 and HERO12
  • Hasselblad X2D-100c
  • Leica Q3 and M11 Monochrom
  • Nikon Z30 and Z8
  • OM Digital OM-5
  • Panasonic DC-G9 II, DC-ZS200D / ZS220D, DC-TZ200D / TZ202D / TZ220D, DC-S5-II and DC-GH6
  • Sony A7C-II, A7CR, ILCE-6700, ZV-1M2, ZV-E1, ILCE-7RM5 (A7R-V) and ILME-FX30
  • Multiple DJI drones' and some smartphones' DNG files

Please note that in case of the Nikon Z30 and Z8 models, the HE/HE* formats are not supported at this time.

If you're owning one of these camera models and are interested in helping us test a beta version of the upcoming Photomatix Pro with support for this camera model please contact the Photomatix Support Team.

For more information on supported file formats see the last part of the FAQ on file format support.

Does Photomatix support the Canon CR3 file format?


Does Photomatix support Nikon Z8 / Z9 RAW files?

Nikon Z8 and Z9 RAW files have three levels of compression available: Lossless compression, HE compression and HE* compression (where HE stands for 'high efficiency').

Photomatix currently supports lossless compressed Z8 and Z9 RAW files, but not HE/HE* compressed ones.

Our software engineers will add support for Nikon HE/HE* compressed RAW files in one of the next sub-releases of Photomatix Pro. In the meantime, you can either:

  • Choose 'Lossless compression' to shoot. You can change the compression level by selecting 'RAW Recording' on the 'Photo Shooting Menu' list.
  • Or
  • Convert HE/HE* compressed NEF files to TIFF or JPEG before loading them into Photomatix Pro.

Note that if you have Lightroom, then you can use Photomatix Pro's plugin for Lightroom to process your HE/HE* compressed NEF files, as this will have the effect of automatically converting them to TIFF.

Does Photomatix support Fuji compressed RAW files?


Does Photomatix support Canon files taken in sRAW or mRAW mode?


What are the file formats and RAW files supported?

Photomatix Pro and Photomatix Essentials load images in the following file formats:

  • JPEG
  • DNG 8-bit and DNG 16-bit
  • TIFF 8-bit and TIFF 16-bit
  • PSD 8-bit and PSD 16-bit
  • Camera RAW (see more details below)

Photomatix Pro and Photomatix Essentials save final images as:

  • JPEG
  • TIFF 8-bit and TIFF 16-bit

Photomatix Pro can additionally save final images as:

  • DNG 8-bit and DNG 16-bit

Photomatix Pro also supports these 32-bit HDR image file formats:

  • OpenEXR (Open and Save)
  • DNG 32-bit (Open and Save)
  • TIFF 32-bit (Open and Save)
  • Radiance RGBE (Open and Save)
  • PSB 32-bit (Open only)

Photomatix Pro and Essentials load RAW files from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, Minolta, Fuji and Sigma, as well as Digital Negative (DNG).

If your camera model is recent, the current version of Photomatix might not yet support its RAW files. You can check whether RAW files from your camera are supported by trying Photomatix with them.

If the current version of Photomatix doesn't yet support RAW files from your camera, and your RAW files aren't mentioned earlier in this FAQ, we would appreciate it very much if you could upload one or more sample RAW files for the investigations of our engineers. You can do that by using our upload form (or by contacting our support if you prefer to upload your files to Dropbox or similar services).

Tips & Tricks

What camera do I need to get good results with your software?

Photomatix works with photos taken under different exposures. To get good results, the exposures taken should cover the entire dynamic range of the scene.

For most outdoors scenes, you can cover the dynamic range by taking three photos separated by two EVs (i.e. two full stops), or five photos separated by one EV.

Many digital cameras include an Auto Exposure Bracketing option that makes the process of taking several exposures easier and faster. If you select Aperture Priority and then use Auto Exposure Bracketing, the camera will automatically take 3 or more shots at different exposure times when you press the shutter release button.

A camera offering Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) is therefore recommended for taking HDR pictures.

Note, though, that your camera's AEB option won't be very useful for HDR shots if the maximum it offers is 3 shots separated by less than one EV (for instance, 0.7 or 2/3 EV). In this case, you would have to change the exposure times manually if you want to capture the dynamic range of a high contrast scene.

To check the Auto Exposure Bracketing settings of a camera and whether it offers an AEB option, see the list of AEB settings per camera model.

A two-EV spacing is best for capturing images intended for HDR. However, a one-EV spacing is still OK if the camera can take 5 or more frames with Auto Exposure Bracketing.

Can I use Photomatix with a single photo?

Photomatix is an effective tool when you want to create an HDR effect on a single photo.

Normally, we create HDR images from a blend of three or more different exposures of the same scene because the camera can’t capture all the detail in the highlight and shadows in a single shot. You can, however, still tease plenty of detail [read more...]

Do I need to convert bracketed RAW files to TIFF before using Photomatix?

The answer depends on your needs and preferences. It is better to first convert your bracketed RAW files, and then load the converted TIFF or JPEG files in Photomatix, in the following cases:

  • You need fine control over white balance adjustments
  • Chromatic Aberrations in your photos are particularly difficult to correct
  • You are more interested in Exposure Fusion than HDR/Tone Mapping

When you convert your RAW files to TIFF or JPEG before loading them in Photomatix, you should systematically disable sharpening, as sharpening should be applied on the final image, not before. You should also ensure the Black is set to zero.

If you are primarily interested in HDR/Tone Mapping, then you should also uncheck all tonal and exposure-related automatic settings. That is, set to zero the Exposure setting but also settings for Contrast, Shadow and similar.

If you are only interested in Exposure Fusion, then the reverse applies. It is better in this case to use the auto-settings of the RAW converter, or adjust them to your liking.

Note that if you have Lightroom and Photomatix Pro, you can directly integrate Lightroom's RAW conversion with Photomatix via the free Export to Photomatix Pro Plugin for Lightroom.

If you need to use the intermediary 32-bit HDR file for image based lighting in 3D or special effects software, then it is better to load RAW files directly in Photomatix. This will ensure a better linearity and accuracy of the intermediary 32-bit HDR file.

How many exposures should I take?

The total number of exposures that you need to shoot depends on the specific scene. Each scene is different in terms of its contrast or its dynamic range, that is, the exposure difference between the darkest areas (shadows) and the brightest areas (highlights) within the scene.

In every scene, you must shoot enough exposures to capture the entire dynamic range of the scene, which includes everything from the darkest areas in shadow to the areas in bright light.

The total number of exposures required also depends on the Exposure Value (EV) spacing between each exposure, as detailed in the next section. If you shoot your bracketed set of exposures in 1 EV steps (e.g., -1, 0, +1 EV), you will need more exposures to capture the entire dynamic range of a scene than if you shoot them in 2 EV steps (e.g., -2, 0, +2 EV). We recommend shooting in 2 EV steps (+/-2 EV) whenever possible.

Most high contrast scenes fall into one of the following two categories. A scene is considered high contrast when its dynamic range is too high for a camera’s sensor to capture in one photo.

  • Average high contrast: Common outdoor scenes with less than ideal light. To properly capture these scenes, 3 shots at 2EV spacing (i.e. -2, 0 +2), or 5 shots at 1EV spacing, are normally sufficient.
  • Very high contrast: This could be an interior of a room with a bright view through the window, or an outdoor scene with the sun in the frame. In this type of situation, you will need at least 5 exposures at 2EV spacing, or 9 at 1EV spacing, and sometimes even more. Refer to the section on capturing a very high contrast scene to determine the number of exposures.

What is the ideal exposure spacing?

Exposure Value (EV) is the value derived from an image’s shutter speed, aperture and ISO. A change of 1EV is also referred to as a change of one "stop".

When taking HDR bracketed photos, you should use a fixed Aperture and ISO, and adjust the shutter speed to change the EV.

Increasing by one EV doubles the amount of light hitting the camera's sensors, and decreasing by one EV halves it. For instance, you can capture a range of 9 EV with shutter speeds ranging from 1/250 to 1 second (assuming a fixed aperture and ISO). If you set your camera to +/-1EV step increments, you will need 9 frames to achieve that range. If you set it to +/-2EV, you will need 5 frames.

Use +/-2EV step increments if your camera has the ability to capture bracketed photos at 2 EV spacing. Using more than 2EV spacing, isn't recommended, though.

A 2EV spacing has several advantages compared to an 1EV spacing. It requires fewer shots to span the dynamic range, and therefore reduces the risk of ghosting in non-static scenes. It also reduces storage needs and makes for faster processing in Photomatix. On the other hand, an 1EV spacing -or lower- does have the advantage of better smoothing out noise when merging to an HDR image.

What is the best way to capture images for HDR?

For average high contrast scenes (e.g., an outdoor landscape shot in the daytime with both sunlight and shadows), using Aperture Priority and Auto Exposure Bracketing makes capturing the images for HDR pretty straightforward. [read more...]


How do I capture a very high contrast scene?

Capturing a particularly high contrast scene, such as a room's interior with a bright view through the window, requires taking all the shots needed to capture both the darkest and brightest parts of the scene.

It is particularly important that the brightest image properly exposes the darkest part of the scene. Similarly, the darkest image should properly expose the brightest area of the scene. [read more...]

How can I get good results when shooting a room with a bright window?

The dynamic range of the inside of a room with a view outside the window on a sunny day is particularly high, much higher than the dynamic range of a typical outdoor scene.

The key to getting a good result with such scenes is to take enough exposures to properly cover the dynamic range. In most cases, you will need at least five exposures spaced two EVs apart. If you take less, you may get washed-out highlights or noisy shadows due to "holes" in the coverage of the dynamic range.

The best way to make sure you have taken enough exposures is to measure the shutter speeds needed to cover the dark and bright part of your scene as detailed in the section on capturing a very high contrast scene.

Also, set the EV steps to +/- 2 if your camera allows it, but no more than 2 in order to ensure a "smooth" coverage of the dynamic range. If your camera doesn't allow more than a +/- 1 EV increments, remember that you will need more exposures than with a two-EV spacing.

When you then merge the shots to HDR in Photomatix Pro, we recommend trying both Exposure Fusion with the Fusion/Interior method and Tone Mapping with the Contrast Optimizer method.

You can access these methods via the Process and Method controls (located above the sliders on the Setting panel on the left). Alternatively, you can access Fusion/Interior with the 'Interior' preset and Contrast Optimizer with the 'Balanced' preset.

The Fusion/Interior method is particularly good at keeping a balanced and "photorealistic" look, while still preserving highlights.

What is the best workflow: Exposure Fusion or HDR Tone Mapping?

This depends on the dynamic range of the scene, the characteristics of the source photos and the effect you want to achieve. Our recommendation is to try both. The table below lists the main pros and cons of both processes:

Process Pros Cons
Tone Mapping

Can preserve details in shadows and highlights even when the dynamic range is particularly high

Offers large range of settings to adjust image to one's liking

Unprocessed HDR merged file can be saved

When source images are noisy, tone mapping often further increases noise

Effect of settings may vary depending on the image, making it necessary to adjust settings per image to achieve a consistent look

Exposure Fusion

Fused image is close to the source photos, giving it a "natural" look

Fusing the images has the effect of reducing noise

Easy-to-understand process, not requiring much tweaking

Lack of local contrast when dynamic range is high, resulting in "flat-looking" image in some cases

When fusing photos, memory load increases with the number of source photos

I am getting noisy results. Is there a way to avoid this?

The Tone Mapping method "Details Enhancer" enhances local details a lot. If the local details of your HDR image are noisy (you can easily see that in the HDR viewer), then the noise will be enhanced as well, unfortunately.

To avoid too much noise showing on the tonemapped image, make sure to check the "Reduce noise" box when merging the images.

However, it is always a good idea to ensure you are taking the photos in the best conditions to keep noise as low as possible. Here are two rules to follow for this:

  • Rule 1: Set a low ISO setting (ISO 100 or lower)
  • Rule 2: Overexpose sufficiently, ensuring that the lightest image of your exposure sequence has its shadows in the mid-tones.

When you process your images in Photomatix, you can reduce the effect of noise by using an Exposure Fusion method, such as Fusion/Natural (which you can also access by clicking on the 'Natural' preset). Processing your photos with Exposure Fusion can be an effective way of reducing noise, as the fused image will have less noise than the original source photos.

If you are using Photomatix with a single RAW image instead of multiple exposures, the chance of getting noisy results is higher. We therefore recommend to expose for the shadows by slightly overexposing your shot when you aren't taking bracketed exposures.

How do I reduce/eliminate "halo" or "glow" effects with Tone Mapping?

Assuming you are using the Details Enhancer HDR method, try to increase the Smooth Highlights setting (under the "More Options" section), as this setting can be effective for reducing halos around objects placed against bright backgrounds. Other adjustments that may help are to lower the Strength or increase the Lighting Adjustments settings.

Another option is to use the Contrast Optimizer or Fusion/Natural methods. You can access these methods via the 'Balanced' and 'Natural' presets respectively. Fusion/Natural is particularly recommended if you are looking for natural-looking results.

Using Photomatix

My camera does not shoot RAWs. Can I still use your software with JPEG pictures?

Definitely. Photomatix does not require images in RAW format. Photomatix is designed to work with photos taken under different exposure settings, and works great when those images are JPEGs.

The important feature to look at in a camera is Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB), the ability to automatically take three or more exposures, preferably in two EV steps. The higher the maximum EV step, number of auto-bracketed frames and frame rate speed, the better it is for HDR processing.

I am using Apple Photos app. How do I load images into Photomatix Pro?

In the Photos app, choose File > Export to export the images to a folder. Then, load the exported images in Photomatix.

When I load RAW files into Photomatix, why does it ignore my Camera Raw edits?

The settings added by Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) in XMP sidecar files are parameters of the Raw conversion engine of ACR. As Photomatix doesn't have access to the proprietary technology of ACR's Raw conversion engine, it cannot use information set by ACR in the XMP files.

The same applies to Adobe Camera Raw settings embedded in DNG files.

In order to preserve the edits you made in Adobe Camera Raw, you will have to convert your RAW or DNG files to TIFF, and then process the TIFF files in Photomatix. See above for more information on this workflow.

Why does the size of the Photomatix output slightly differ from the size of the original RAW file in Photoshop?

When you load RAW files directly into Photomatix, the Raw conversion is done by Photomatix, and the conversion process differs depending on the software doing it.

The Raw conversion used by Photomatix tries to extract as many pixels as possible from the original Raw data captured by your camera's sensors. For some camera models, this results in a width and height that are a few pixels more than the width and height you get when the Raw file is converted by other software.

To avoid this, you would need to convert your original RAW files first in Photoshop (or other Raw conversion software you are viewing the Raw file in), then load the converted TIFF or JPEG files into Photomatix. The pixel size of the images produced by Photomatix will then be same as the size of the source images.

Note that if you use the alignment option and need to overlay the Photomatix image with the original photos, you will have to leave the 'crop aligned images' box unchecked to ensure the size is not reduced.

Does Photomatix do all the HDR editing in a DNG format like Lightroom does?

Assuming you are referring to the Floating Point DNG format used to store the result of merging to HDR in Lightroom CC, then the answer is yes. When Photomatix merges bracketed photos to HDR, the merged image is in a Floating Point format (a.k.a 32-bit HDR format) that preserves all information from the merged photos.

By default, Photomatix doesn't save to disk the HDR image in Floating Point format after merging. Instead, it lets you directly edit the HDR image and then save the edited file. An edited HDR image can only be saved in non-HDR format, such as 16-bit TIFF or JPEG.

If you prefer to save the merged HDR image in Floating Point format before editing it, there are two ways to do that with Photomatix Pro:

  • The first way is to view the merged image before moving on to the Adjust & Preview step. For this, select the "Show the 32-bit HDR image after merging" option if you are using Photomatix Pro in Landscape or Real Estate mode, or "Display the 32-bit HDR image" in Photogrammetry mode on the Merge to HDR Options window. Once you have merged the images (and before clicking 'Tone Map / Fuse'), choose File > Save As... to save the 32-bit HDR image.
  • The second way is to close the window that lets you adjust the Tone Mapping / Fusion settings and that automatically shows after the merge (unless you followed the first way described above). Once the window is closed, choose File > Save As... to save the 32-bit HDR image. To return to editing the HDR image, click 'Tone Map / Fuse'.

What is the maximum file size that I can work with?

The file size to consider for Photomatix is the size expressed in number of pixels, i.e. width X height. Since Photomatix has to decompress the images for processing, the compression factor of the input images does not make any difference in the ability to process large files.

The maximum file size (in number of pixels) that you can process with Photomatix depends on the following:

  • the RAM your computer has
  • the pixel depth of your images
  • the number of bracketed photos you are merging
  • the number of other memory-hungry applications opened on your computer
  • the free space available on your hard drive

For an idea of the memory necessary to process your images, the following formulae give a rough estimate of the amount of memory (RAM) needed in number of bytes:

Merging bracketed photos to HDR:

width * height * (3 * (bit-depth/8) * numberOfImages + 6)

Using Photomatix in batch mode with HDR settings from the Details Enhancer method with the Lighting Effects Mode box checked:

width * height * 18

This means that merging three 100 MegaPixels 16-bit images to HDR requires around:

100,000,000 * (3 * 2 * 3 + 6) = 2.4 GB

and tone mapping a 100 MegaPixels Radiance file with Details Enhancer (Lighting Effects Mode box checked) requires around:

100,000,000 * 18 = 1.8 GB

How does your software handle color profiles?

Photomatix processes the RGB values of your source images directly, without converting them to another color space. This means that images you create with Photomatix are in the same color space as the one specified by the ICC color profile of your source images.

When a color profile for the source images is available, Photomatix embeds it into the resulting tone mapped or fused image.

If you are using the Export to Photomatix Pro plugin for Lightroom, note that Lightroom will first export your images to TIFF before Photomatix can load them. This means that Photomatix will use the color profile of the TIFF files created by Lightroom, which is Adobe RGB by default. To use another profile, see this FAQ.

In the special case when you have saved as Radiance the unprocessed intermediary 32-bit HDR file before tone mapping, Photomatix saves the name of the color profile in the header of the Radiance file. If you then re-use the Radiance file for tone mapping in Photomatix Pro and the saved name is sRGB, AdobeRGB or ProPhoto RGB, Photomatix will generate the corresponding ICC profile and embed it in the tone mapped image.

Photomatix is color managed for the display, as well. This means it will show the correct color values based on the ICC profile of the image and the color profile set as display profile for your monitor.

On macOS, the display profile is set under System Preferences->Displays->Color.

On Windows, it can be found by clicking the Windows icon, typing "Color" in the search box, and clicking "Color Management".

Another way to get there is to right-click on the Desktop and choose "Display Settings". From there click Advanced Display Settings > Display > Adapter properties for Display [display-number]. Select the Color Management tab, then click the Color Management button.

Do I need to load the images in any particular order?

No, you can load the images in any order, regardless of their Exposure Value.

The process of merging to HDR makes it necessary to assign an exposure to each source image and Photomatix automatically retrieves the exposure information from EXIF data. When the images do not have EXIF data, Photomatix estimates the EVs based on the brightness level of the source photos. Photomatix Pro also offers the option to manually adjust the estimated EVs (unless the program is run in batch mode).

What are the differences between Exposure Fusion and HDR/Tonemapping?

Both processes start from Low Dynamic Range (LDR) images taken under different exposures and both attempt to produce an LDR image that shows tonal details of the entire dynamic range captured by the multiple exposures.

The differences are in the processes involved. Exposure Fusion combines the source photos in such a way that highlight details are taken from the underexposed photos and shadow details from the overexposed ones. The fused image is therefore a weighted average of the source images.

Exposure Fusion has the advantage of being easy to understand and is familiar to photographers who are used to doing this process manually in image editing applications. Also, Exposure Fusion has the nice side effect of reducing noise.

HDR Tone Mapping is composed of two steps. The first step merges differently exposed photos to a 32 bits/channel unprocessed HDR image. Such image cannot be displayed properly on standard monitors, which is why a second step called Tone Mapping is necessary.

Tone Mapping consists of scaling each pixel of the HDR image, so that details in highlights and shadows show correctly on monitors and prints (these details are available in the unprocessed 32-bit image but not directly visible because of the low dynamic range of the display).

Tone Mapping algorithms vary from a simple gamma curve (which is close to what cameras are doing when converting 12-bit or 14-bit RAW data to JPEGs) to more complex operations commonly divided into two categories:

  • Global mapping: the brightness value of a pixel in the final image depends on its brightness value in the original image, as well as global image characteristics, but not on the pixel's spatial location
  • Local mapping: the brightness value of a pixel in the final image varies depending on whether the pixel is located in a dark or bright area in the original image.

The main advantage of global mapping is fast processing. Local mapping requires longer processing times but is better at producing a "good-looking" photograph (which is because the human eye adapts to contrast locally). In Photomatix, the Tone Mapping methods named Details Enhancer, Contrast Optimizer and Tone Balancer belong to the category of local mapping and Tone Compressor to the category of global mapping.

Does Photomatix make use of dual and quad processors?

Photomatix makes use of multi-threading in RAW conversion, image alignment, noise reduction, and processing with Details Enhancer, Contrast Optimizer, Tone Compressor, Fusion/Natural and Fusion/Interior methods.

However, it is important to note that most processes of Photomatix are memory-intensive, which means that multi-processor support may not speed up processing times as much as one may expect. For a memory-intensive process, the bottleneck regarding processing times comes from memory accesses rather than a high number of operations (as the processor has to stay idle for many cycles, waiting for data to be fetched in memory).

How many images can I merge?

With Photomatix Essentials, the number of images you can merge is limited to 5. With Photomatix Pro, the number of images you can merge is unlimited.

Is it true that Photomatix converts RAWs to JPEGs for internal processing?

No. Photomatix does not convert RAW files to JPEG for internal processing, and never did. It would not make sense to do this anyway, given that converting to JPEG would result in quality loss and add processing time.

When you load RAW files in Photomatix, the files are converted in linear space into an uncompressed image with 16 bits per color channel, i.e. 48 bits per pixel.

The only time Photomatix converts to JPEG is when you want to save the image created by Photomatix and choose to save it as JPEG. This applies to a tonemapped or fused image created by Photomatix, and not to the original image you loaded.

Can I use your product for combining multiple scans?

Yes, Photomatix can be used to combine two or more scans from the same film scanned under different exposure settings. You may also try with scanned slides, but it is better to do it with negatives, as the dynamic range for film's negatives is higher than for slides.

You will need to ensure that the scans have the same size before loading them in Photomatix. You will also need to check the "Align images" option in order to correct for possible mis-registration of the scans.

Technical issues & unexpected results

When installing on macOS , I get the message "The installation failed."

This error message sometimes occurs when running an installer from certain locations such as the Downloads folder. Please move the Photmatix Pro installer file to your Desktop and run it again from this new location.

Are any Photomatix products affected by the critical Log4j security vulnerability?

No, this vulnerability does not affect any of our products. Log4j is used in Java programs, and no Photomatix products use Java or Log4j.

I keep getting a "PhotomatixPro.exe couldn't be downloaded" error

Normally, this is an issue that may happen when using Internet Explorer to download from secure websites.

If you are using Internet Explorer, there is fix described on this Microsoft page.

Another solution is to use a different browser (e.g. Chrome, Firefox) to download Photomatix.

If you are not using Internet Explorer when you are getting this error, please contact our technical support.

Photomatix Pro will not fully launch on Windows. I get an error "The Processing Server has failed to start: No communication received from server"

There are a few things that could cause this, but there is one particular cause that is actively being investigated. If you use any disk cleaning software such as CCleaner, or a security software like BitDefender, these could potentially be removing some critical component that Photomatix Pro needs to function correctly.

In this case, the first troubleshooting step is to create a new Windows User Account on your computer, and try launching Photomatix Pro before running any other software. If Photomatix Pro works correctly here, the best solution for the moment is to use this account for Photomatix Pro for the time being, without running the other apps on it.

If you are willing to help provide some diagnostics logs, this may help us find a more specific cause of the issue. Please reach out to our technical support team in this case, or if the above does not help or does not apply.

When I am Browsing folders in Photomatix Pro on Windows 11, only the Desktop appears in the folder list

If you are using Browse and Load in Photomatix Pro, or another dialog box that should show all the folders on your computer and it only shows the Desktop, this may be caused by having OneDrive syncing enabled for your Desktop.

The solution is to disable syncing only for your Desktop; other folders should not have such an effect. Please follow these steps to do this:

  • Before proceeding, copy the files in those special folders to another folder or external drive, but not anywhere under Desktop, Documents, or Pictures. Disabling OneDrive backup for a folder erases the local copies of the files so copying them to a different location beforehand will ensure that you don’t need to download them again from the OneDrive cloud.
  • Right-click the OneDrive icon in the Notification area and click Settings.
  • Select the 'Sync and backup' tab, and click Manage Backup
  • In the Manage folder backup dialog, turn off the option for "Desktop", confirming any dialogs there might be.

The thumbnails list behaves strangely since I upgraded to macOS Sonoma

Filtering the preset thumbnails list doesn't work as expected on macOS Sonoma when running older versions of Photomatix Pro, the Batch plugin for Lightroom or Tone Mapping plugin for Photoshop.

Please download the latest version of Photomatix Pro or the Photomatix Pro Plus Bundle to solve the issue.

I can't get sharp results with your software

Lack of sharpness on HDR processed images is often due to the use of Shutter priority or Program mode instead of the recommended Aperture priority mode when bracketing shots.

If you set your camera to Shutter priority, the depth of field will change between the shots, and this will lead to inferior results on the combined image. There may also be vignetting issues, too.

It is important to set your camera to Aperture priority when shooting with Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB). This way, only the shutter time will vary, and the Aperture (and therefore depth-of-field) will remain the same.

The preview does not look the same as the final image

If the final image looks less "sharp" or "crisp" than the preview, this is because the preview shows the image at a lower resolution than the resolution of photos from your camera. As the preview image is small, it can be displayed directly on screen, with one pixel in the preview corresponding to one pixel on your monitor.

The final image, however, is too large to show in its entirety at 100% resolution. So, whenever you are viewing the final image at a resolution lower than its full resolution, the image is downsampled, with one pixel on screen averaging several pixels in the original image. This downsampling has the effect of making the final image appear less sharp.

However, if the difference you are observing is not as described above, but is that the final image is substantially darker or lighter than the preview, this may happen with some images when using the Details Enhancer or Contrast Optimizer methods. If you are using the Details Enhancer method with the Lighting Effects mode box checked, then enlarging the preview (by clicking on the + magnifier icon) to a size close to its maximum should avoid the difference. It may also help to set the Black Point and White Point to their default values (0 and 0.25 respectively) and ensure the Micro-smoothing setting is higher than zero.

How do I transfer my presets to another computer?

Presets are small XMP files that are saved in a specific location, and the process of transfering them to another computer is as simple as copying them from the appropriate folder on the first computer, to the second one. You can use any method you like to transfer the files such as a cloud service like Dropbox, a USB drive, or even emailing them to yourself.

To access the preset folder on Windows, use the keyboard shortcut WindowsKey + R, copy & paste the following into the Run box, and click OK to open the presets folder:


On a Mac, choose the menu option "Go > Go to Folder...", copy & paste the following, and press Enter:

~/Library/Application Support/Photomatix/Presets

You changed the name of settings in the new Photomatix Pro version. What were their names in older versions?

HDR Method Old name New name Changed in
Details Enhancer Gamma Brightness Version 6
Luminosity Tone Compression Version 5
Microcontrast Detail Contrast Version 4
Smoothing Lighting Adjustments Version 4
Light Mode Lighting Effects Mode Version 4
Highlights Smoothness Smooth Highlights Version 4
'Default' preset 'Detailed' preset Version 6
Fusion/Natural Brightness Exposure Balance Version 6
Midtone Brightness Version 6
Accentuation Strength Version 4
Sharpness Local Contrast Version 4
Contrast Optimizer Midtone Brightness Version 6

The alignment did not work with my images

Photomatix alignment is supposed to work in all cases of mis-registration due to camera movements between the bracketed shots. However, it may be necessary to adjust some of the alignment settings for images that are particularly difficult to align.

To try other settings, click on "Show Alignment Settings" and uncheck the "Include perspective correction" box (or check it in case it was unchecked). If changing that option would still not make a difference, then try adjusting the 'Maximum shift' setting based on how much camera movement was involved.

If changing the alignment settings doesn't help, we would be grateful if you could contact our technical support to provide us with the images that Photomatix failed to align. This way, our engineers can use your images to reproduce the misalignment issue in order to investigate its cause and further improve the alignment algorithm. Note that even if adjusting the "include perspective correction" option solves the issue, we would still be very interested in getting your images, as our aim is to have Photomatix "guess" whether perspective correction is needed.

When installing a newer version, I get the message "Error trying to replace existing file: DeleteFile failed; code 5"

This error message means that you are running Photomatix at the same time you tried to install another version of it. To avoid the error, close any instance of Photomatix that is already open before installing another version.

How do I uninstall Photomatix on a Mac computer?

Go to your Applications folder, locate the Photomatix Pro app file and move it to the Trash.

Using Photomatix for panoramas

I am stitching panoramas. How should I integrate Photomatix into my workflow?

First of all, you will need to shoot each one of the panorama's angles of view at different exposures (for instance three exposures at 0, -2, +2 EV). Those exposures should remain the same for all of the angles of view of your panorama.

If your panorama software supports 32-bit HDR stitching, then you can use Photomatix to create 32-bit HDR image files in Radiance (.hdr extension) or OpenEXR (.exr extension) format that you will then load in the panorama software for stitching. Once the 32-bit HDR panorama has been stitched, you can open it in Photomatix Pro for tone mapping.

If your panorama software does not support 32-bit HDR stitching, there are two possibilities for integrating Photomatix inro your panorama workflow:

  1. Stitch-then-HDR: create panoramas at multiple exposures and process them in Photomatix
  2. HDR-then-Stitch: process your bracketed images in Photomatix and stitch the tone mapped or combined images

With the Stitch-then-HDR worflow, you will stitch a panorama for each exposure level and then merge those panoramas in Photomatix. If you shot your panorama frames at -2, 0 and +2EV, for instance, you will load all your -2 EV photos in your panorama software, stitch them and save the resulting -2EV pano. You will do the same for the 0 EV and +2 EV photos, then merge the -2, 0 and +2 EV pano images in Photomatix Pro.

Note that the Stitch-then-HDR workflow assumes the differently exposed panoramas are stitched the same way, i.e. using the same control points for each panorama. This can only work if your stitching software makes it possible to replicate the stitching parameters used for one panorama to another panorama, so that it can stitch the panorama at each exposure level exactly the same way. If this is not the case, you will have to use Photomatix prior to stitching, i.e. merging your bracketed shots for each one of the angle of views and then stitch together the resulting images.

The second type of workflow, HDR-then-Stitch, avoids multiple stitches per pano, which is an advantage if your pano is composed of a limited number of views. The drawback, however, is that this approach may not work well with the dynamic range increase techniques that take the most advantage of local contrast, especially the Details Enhancer method. Because local contrast is specific to a given view, those techniques produce images with different tone levels, making them more difficult to stitch.

We recommend the Batch Processing of Photomatix Pro when using the HDR-then-Stitch workflow.

My tone mapped panorama shows a straight vertical seam line after processing in Photomatix.

You will need to check the "360º image" option to get rid of the seam that would otherwise appear when you tone map or fuse panoramas with Photomatix Pro.


How do I stay informed about your product updates?

You are welcome to subscribe to the Photomatix announcements to receive an email when a new major version of the software is released. (Please note that our strict privacy policy precludes us for using the email addresses of your order for marketing purposes, so you must explicitly request to be notified about upgrades by subscribing to the announcements).

If you are using Photomatix Pro, you can also check whether you are using its latest version via the 'Check for Upgrade' menu item. You can access it from the 'Help' menu on Windows and 'Photomatix Pro' menu on Mac.

How do I change my email address to my new one?

The answer depends on the reason for changing your email address in our records of your purchase.

If it is because you expect to receive a newsletter when you purchase a license of Photomatix, then this won't happen automatically, as explained above. So, if you wish to get informed of new versions of our products, you will need to explicitly request it by subscribing to the Photomatix announcements. If you already subscribed with your old email address, then you would just need to subscribe again with the new one.

If you wish to change the email address in our records because you need to be resent your License Key, then please contact us mentioning your old email address.

Is there a wish-list for Photomatix?

Definitely. Please use the Technical Support Form and select 'Suggestion / Feature Request' for the type of query to let us know what your suggestions, ideas or feature requests are. Thank you in advance.

Do you offer a discount to students?

Yes. You can find the details on the academic pricing page.

How do I get a refund?

HDRsoft offers a full money-back guarantee within 90 days of your purchase. To request a refund, please email our support team.

If you are asking for a refund because of a technical issue with the software, please detail the issues you are having in your email to us. Our support team will be happy to help, and the time spent troubleshooting won't count toward your 90 days money-back guarantee.

You do not have to provide a reason for requesting a refund. However, we would very much appreciate if you could detail what made you dissatisfied with Photomatix in exchange for the refund, as this information will help improve our products.

Note that if you purchased Photomatix from Apple's App Store or from Amazon or B&H, you'll have to request the refund from Apple, Amazon or B&H respectively.

Can I install two different versions of Photomatix Pro in parallel?

Yes, as long as you install each version in a separate folder.

Is there a Photomatix app for the iPad?

While Photomatix is not available as an iPad app at the moment, a Photomatix for iPad app is in the works.

The iPad app won't have all features available in Photomatix Pro, though, at least not in its first version. Things like Selective Deghosting, Batch Processing or the Brush Tool won't yet be part of it.

In any case, we are very interested to hear what features you would be looking for when using Photomatix on an iPad.

So, please feel free to share with us any suggestions or ideas for an edition of Photomatix that runs on the iPad. You are welcome to submit your suggestions using the Technical Support Form, with 'Suggestions / Feature Request' selected for the type of query.